Hon. Mark Eyking (Sydney—Victoria, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for New Brunswick Southwest, who is a hard-working member of our committee. Wherever we go, she mentions how important trade is to her riding, as it borders on the United States, so I am glad to split my time with her.
I rise today add my voice in support of Bill C-100, the Canada-United States-Mexico free trade agreement, or what some would call the old NAFTA or NAFTA 2.
I have had the great pleasure of chairing our international trade committee over the last four years. Some say it is the most active, vibrant, hard-working committee on the Hill. It helps when I bring lobsters once in a while to get everybody to work together. We do not always agree, but we all work together for Canadian companies and for Canadians in making sure we have fair agreements and that they are good for us. Together, we went through the European agreement, the TPP and of course the new NAFTA.
I would like to thank the clerk and staff of the committee, who travel around with us. They put our travel itineraries and our studies together, making sure they are in proper form and getting them to the House. We could not do work at committee without the great staff we have around us.
I would like to commend the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister for the great job they have done. I also commend the premiers. A lot of premiers worked closely with governors in the United States and Mexico. They went down there on their own dime from their own provinces and helped us work this through. There were even some mayors from our country, and of course Canadian stakeholders went back and forth as well to help us get through this deal.
Unions also helped. They were often there with us. In Washington, they worked with us. They worked with their counterparts south of the border. This was very important, and we saw that in what we did for the Mexican workers to improve their lives.
Canada is a trading nation, and currently we have 15 trade agreements. I think we have more than any other G20 country. Our government understands how important international trade is in growing and strengthening our economy, and that is exactly what we are doing. In fact, in 2017, the total trilateral trade among the three countries reached over $1 trillion U.S., which represents almost 30% of the world's GDP. It is amazing, and it is the envy of countries all over the world that would love to be in this trading bloc.
Our trade committee had the privilege to travel not only to Capitol Hill in Washington a couple of times, but also to San Francisco, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago and other places in the United States, where we had very productive meetings with senators, members of Congress and chambers of commerce. In these meetings, we stressed the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement, what it holds for all three economies and how deeply connected our countries are.
My son-in-law is from Mexico, and I have cousins in the United States and friends in Florida. Our countries are closely connected with each other, not only in regard to trade and the military, but in all the things we do.
Our committee was at a chamber of commerce meeting in San Francisco where the guest speaker was George Shultz. He is a former United States secretary of state who worked under a couple of presidents. He made a wonderful speech. He told us that people can have a good job when they start life and can have a good home, but there is nothing like having a good neighbour. He said Canada is the best neighbour that any country could have. I was very proud to hear that from him.
He also said we could work on those things, and said—surprisingly, as he worked for the Republicans—that the next big thing after the trade agreements is to work together on the environment. It was very progressive of him to state that if we work together on that, we can change what is going on in the world with our environmental standards and also be leaders in the business of environmental technology.
We had a big job to do in going to the United States. Most Canadians realize how important trade is, but many times American politicians do not realize the importance of American trade with Canada. The staff at the Canadian embassy in Washington did a great job for us and gave us a map of the United States, which I have with me, showing what each state sells to Canada. Out of the 50 states, every state sells at least $1 billion of product to us.
These are some of the numbers for a year: Florida sells $8 billion to us; Washington state, $10 billion; New York state, $20 billion a year; Ohio, $22 billion, out of Columbus; California, $28 billion. People would think it is mostly the border states, but the biggest is Texas, where we buy over $32 billion worth of product.
One of our biggest jobs as the committee was going down there and explaining to the senators and congresspeople how much we buy from the U.S.A. I was very proud of our committee and the work we did. We met all these different representatives, and it was part of doing the job. We are a smaller country, but the job we have to do sometimes is to reinforce that understanding.
In my riding alone in Cape Breton and in Atlantic Canada, how much trade we do is unbelievable. For instance, in my riding we have Victoria Co-operative Fisheries. It is a co-operative that started years ago. After the Depression, the co-op movement was big in Cape Breton, and these fishermen got together and had their own co-op. They process their own fish. They buy their supplies together. It is a very good co-op, and when I was talking to them, it was amazing to find out that over three-quarters of their product is sold into the U.S. market. They have beautiful products.
That is just one company in my riding. We also have Protocase, a new company in Sydney that is making electronic boxes and selling them all over the world, but of course the biggest customer is the United States.
We also have Copol International. We are talking a lot lately about plastics; Copol International, from North Sydney, buys plastic pellets from Ohio or Louisiana and mixes discarded shells from lobster, crab and shrimp with the plastic so the plastic can be biodegradable. The company is making a great product and is selling it to California.
That is just in my riding alone, but in all of Atlantic Canada, 62% of exports go to the United States. In Nova Scotia, our biggest export to the United States, over $1 billion, is seafood, which comes from all over Nova Scotia.
We also have Michelin Tires, which has three plants in Nova Scotia, with 3,500 employees, and most of those tires are sold all through the United States. Nova Scotia is also the biggest exporter of wild blueberries, and 50% of Nova Scotia's frozen wild blueberries go to the United States.
In the other provinces, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Irvings sell lumber. In P.E.I., we cannot have lobster and crab without a feed of French fries or potatoes. Over $1 billion worth of French fries and potatoes come right out of P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
We see the importance of trade. Agricultural trade alone in Canada is $50 billion. It is almost half and half. We buy $25 billion in agriculture and we sell $25 billion. The numbers are huge, and the United States is not the only major partner: Mexico is Canada's fourth-largest market, where we export $2 billion every year in just wheat, canola and beef.
Our trade committee studied e-commerce as another opportunity for Canada to export more products to Mexico. Canada imported almost $30 billion in trade from Mexico in 2017, so trade is not just with the United States; though we often focus on that, it is with other countries also.
What I am getting at with all these important statistics is that this new agreement is not only preserving existing trade agreements to keep what we have but also improving on them. Every agreement needs a touch-up once in a while. We have to strengthen our economies and open up more doors to opportunity. Trilateral trade among our three countries has always been strong, and now it is going to be stronger.
I am proud to work with this government and this committee and I am proud of what we have done on this agreement. It is not there yet, but we are getting there.
Our committee visited Washington and we have to go in tandem there a bit with them, but I am sure we are going to get it done. It is not just for us in this Parliament; it is for the men and women who are working in fish plants, in the car assemblies or in the pulp and paper mills or on the grain farms. That is what we are here for. We are here to help them, to make sure that trade comes, because without that trade, we do not have prosperity.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation Act